Science Fiction Firearms

So I am writing a Scifi novel and it has a few characters that are trained military personnel in the future. They are well armed. I have glazed over the gun details so far but I am rapidly approaching some decisions.

Here is a list of what I need to create:
  • Sniper Rifle (.50 BMG)
  • Handguns (Glock .45)
  • Light Rig (AR-15)
  • Heavy Rig (AR-10)
All of these firearms would use Caseless ammo. Scifi optics and targeting. They would be made of materials that doesn't exist currently. They are stronger, lighter, more durable and require minimal maintenance.

The twist is that they are projectile weapons. Fire actual bullets. They are not bothered by EMP cannons designed to disable Energy Based Weapons.

--What would be good scifi features!?


Chaplain Tim said...

As a long time reader of science fiction, I'm not sure where to start.
Since you've already decided to make them out of unobtainium, the features are almost endless. Folding or collapsing barrels for storage (look at the Mass Effect video game weapons) would be a good feature, as would a "cold" propellant (no flash or heat signature). If they're going to be EMP-proof, they have to be standard slug-throwers, not Gauss rifles or mini rail guns. Keep the electronic frills to a minimum for the same reason.
If you're going to have weapons used on space stations or friendly ships, frangible ammo or at least the ability to select ship-safe ammo is a good idea. Self-guided munitions are almost a reality now, so that's another option. If your projectiles are made of unobtainium, velocities can be pushed to the absurd, with the expected results on range, accuracy, and lethality.
Depending on the background of your characters, you might also want to consider an indirect-fire weapon like a grenade launcher with multiple types of ammo. Being able to launch a drone or lob a small bomb over a wall would be very handy.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Upgrade the Body Armor.

Geodkyt said...

I am assuming your society has fairly free access to raw materials, likely through asteroid refining. That would make metals that are currently very expensive far more economical.

CERMET barrels, with an insulating wrap out of an aerogel or something similar to teh space shuttle tiles (depending on materials strength, might have to put something like a carbon fiber tube around that. lightweight, long lasting, fairly heat impervious barrels (unless you set up a lab test to deliberately run a few tens of thousands of rounds through in on e long continuous burst. . . ). barrels would look like bull barrels, but likely weigh no more than a modern pencil barrel. (Think the steel lined, carbon fiber wrapped barrels available today.)

As caseless, the shoulder weapons ought to be bullpups. That means "rifle length" barrels in "SMG length" guns. So barrel lengths ought to be based around maximizing ballistic efficiency. The overall weapon length of most modern 5.56x45mm bullpups are only about 26cm-28cm longer than the barrel. The RFB (in 7.62mm NATO) is only 20cm longer than the barrel. The Barret M95 is less than 41cm longer than the barrel. And these are guns that have to have a linear loading and extraction cycle -- the G11, even with it's complexity, was only 19cm longer than the barrel.

NO reason not to have suppressors on military and police arms, likely no reason to restrict them on civilian arms outside Nanny-States. Hell, in many parts of Europe, suppressors are becoming expected hunting equipment, for noise abatement - both good manners and safety. Modern suppressors ARE capable of being made "Private Proof".

For general purpose military loads (assault rifle class or larger), heavy metal penetrators (titanium, osmium, or DU), in sabots for large calibers (10mm+) or softer jackets (copper, polymer, etc.) for the smaller calibers.

Honestly, there is not point in fiddling around much with bullet design for pistol calibers -- a flat nosed semiwadcutter FMJ for general military purposes, and expanding JHPs not much different from today's for areas where hard penetration is not as critical and expanding ammo is OK. Frangibles are likely a good choice aboard ship -- not because of "overpenetration" in the hull, but overpenetration amongst hostages/civilians and electronics. (Small arms bullet holes letting out all the air really aren't that big a deal, sealant goo in insulating panels will make them a nearly complete non-issue, and even "spray goo" aerosol cans and/or airproof duct tape with vacuum resistant adhesive for patches would suffice without self-sealing panels. An AP round shattering a large window IS a big deal. . . but making such panels out of shatterproof materials is within MODERN tech, if expensive.)

If the projos (not including any sabot) are "long for caliber" (caliber of the penetrator, not the bore) with prestressed segments and a center of gravity weighted to the rear (steel jacket and AP tip, stacks of heavier metal cylinders behind the tip) you can achieve both superior hard target penetration AND improved soft target wounding. (It'll drive straight through a hard target, but destabilize quickly and shatter in a "liquid" target like meat sending teh seperate bits on divergent paths through tissue. Has to do with natural stability in different media. . . )

That's just off the top of my head. . .

Geodkyt said...

I should point out, suppressors may not be standard on "defensive" or "service" handguns, because of length and size reasons. But any longarms or target pistols? No reason not to.

WacoJim said...

Make sure there is a natural evolution. Glock 92 or HK-234 or an AK-111.

Polymer based stocks and lego like interchangeability seems to be the future.

PleasePleasePlease include a bayonet!

Samuel Suggs said...

have them talk about the H&K g11 like we talk about needle pinfire ans spun cased ammunition please you know like " those crazy germans where on the right track but the disentgrating protective caseing prevents the same cartridge durability problems thye suffered" oOo also have old guys who still carry old cartrige based firearms and call the new stuff "Hippe" and "collectivst bullshit"

Geodkyt said...

Considering that neither Kalashnikov, HK, nor Glock were in the firearms fields 100 years ago, I see no reason why they would necessarily be in the firearms field 100 years from now.

And Samuel? Complaints about the G11 ammo's durability are so 1980. Seriously -- by the end there, they were quite durable. As in, one engineer carried a couple of rounds around in his pocket with his keys and change for over a year, and they worked fine afterwards. Actually, the two biggest valid complaints about the G11's ammo are its caliber and its shape (the magazine space efficiency of square profile rounds is FAR outweighed by the issues with running those Lego blocks through high speed loading cycles).

The LSAT program has done wonders to validate the ammo (they licensed the G11's propellant technology for the caseless variant) -- the primary issue with the caseless LSAT is high volume production efficiency.

Gunnutmegger said...

When you decide how far in the future the story takes place, you will know how advanced you can make the technology.

Remember, the laws of physics & thermodynamics (and economics) still apply. Resist the urge to make wonder weapons that have unlimited batteries and no drawbacks. EMP would affect all non-hardened electronics.

And while the cook-off and ammo durability issues with caseless ammo were addressed during the G11's development (as Geodkyt mentioned), the system still had combustion taking place in the chamber with no brass casing to contain it. There would still be residue that could build up. Might require a high-tech slippery material for the chamber of such a gun, or a self-cleaning mechanism. Or maybe the trade-off of a propellant that delivers less-than-maximum efficiency but which burns cleaner.

And decisions on design and procurement are made by humans, who are fallible. Are all of the models equally reliable & accurate? Are all manufacturers of equal quality? Are some too heavy? Do some lack a crucial feature (such as a quick-change barrel) that the troops complain about needing?